Catchers are always worried about improving their arm and throwing runners out. While these things are important, the one thing catchers need to work on more than anything is the simple act of catching. Catching should not be taken for granted. It should be worked on everyday. It is probably the easiest thing to work on with just a little focus. Here are three things that can be done at every practice.
1. Compete– Every practice or game should be a competition with the goal of having zero balls hit the ground. All catchers should have the goal of catching everything their way. Anytime a catchable ball hits the ground is a point. The goal is to have no points. This can be competitive and should be an ongoing game anytime the catcher is on the field. This means in the dugout, before practice, or after practice counts as well. A catcher should never drop a ball.
2. Pre-practice throwing-Throw with other catchers and work on catching and sticking. Pre-practice throwing is not just to warm up your arm. Anytime a ball is thrown your way, stick it. Far too often pre-practice throwing turns into talk of tehh day and knuckleball contests. This is the focused catchers’ chance to improve. Use it.
3. Bullpens– This is probably the most important chance a catcher has to improve his receiving. A bullpen is not just for the pitcher, but this is how catchers’ treat it. A bullpen is just a game with no hitter. What better way for a catcher to improve his receiving skills. He can work on setting up, his stance, quiet body, sticking pitches, framing, and blocking pitches in the dirt. The best part of the bullpen is everything happens at random just like the game. Every pitch isn’t in the dirt like drills on blocking. Every pitch doesn’t’ hit it’s spot. This is also a time a catcher that isn’t playing much can build rapport with the pitching staff and pitching coach so they have confidence in him when his chance arises.
Catchers are often forgotten at baseball practices just used to shag balls from infielders and catching bullpens. But using these strategies can help the catcher improve his receiving even when he is not getting the drill time he needs.